Read on to learn more about gout, how it occurs, its history and how to prevent it.
Gout refers to a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints, or hyperuricemia. When a person eats foods rich in purine, like beef and seafood, the body produces uric acid to break these down. However, when his uric acid levels become too high, this can cause uric acid crystals (monosodium urate) to form. They most commonly form in the joints of the big toe, but they can be seen in other joints like the fingers, elbows and ankles.
People who have gout experience sudden, intense pain in the area affected. The tissues surrounding the joint swell, turn red and become exceedingly tender to the touch. After a gout attack, a person's movements become severely limited. It makes putting shoes, socks or even placing a blanket on it unbearable. Most people who have it limp or stay seated to deal with the pain.
Even though many people suffer from gout, not everyone seeks treatment. A recent poll showed that having gout invokes feelings of shame and embarrassment that holds them back from getting help. This is a problem because people who have gout are more vulnerable to developing heart disease and kidney stones.
This stigma stems from gout's infamous reputation in history. Gout is commonly associated with the nobles and their excessively luxurious lifestyles – most famous of whom was King Henry VIII. In fact, gout was so common among them that it was dubbed the “disease of kings.” While people no longer think that gout is limited to nobles and kings, its association with an opulent lifestyle remains.
Consuming certain foods and drinks cause an increase in uric acid levels, which contribute to gout. This includes alcohol, sweetened beverages, meat and shellfish. Some people are also predisposed to gout. In a study published in BMJ, researchers even suggested that compared to genetic factors, diet has a significantly smaller contribution to the development of gout.
Regardless of its etiology, here are some ways to reduce its risk:
Like any other health condition, gout may have been brought about by a series of bad eating habits. It is always best to seek help and treatment from healthcare professionals. (Related: Gout - Seek a drugless approach to this painful condition.)
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